I am scared, and so too are the people from these atolls about what this means for our culture, our communities and our identity.
Because of climate change, I am uncertain about what is to come. How can I feel that my future is safe? How can I be sure that my home village won’t disappear in 10 years’ time? How can I be sure that my community won’t have to find a new home? How can I be sure that I will be able to raise my children in the same place that my mother and father raised me? I am not sure. I am scared and worried.
At the global negotiations, many nations, including Australia, have focused on avoiding 2 degrees of global warming. While this may not sound like much, it will threaten the survival of many small island nations.
Sea-level rise and unprecedented storm surges caused by climate change are already affecting communities across the Pacific and are expected to get significantly worse if climate change is not immediately and adequately tackled.
Consequently, small island governments, like my own, are asking the global community to prevent global warming above 1.5 degrees. This means a global emission stabilisation target of below 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide equivalent in the atmosphere.
Throughout my life, flags have been raised at the United Nations as the global community has recognised new nations. The global community cannot allow flags to be taken down as nations and cultures vanish beneath the ocean.
I came to the climate change conference because, as a young person, I believe that there must be urgent action to protect my future. I am here with Project Survival Pacific, an initiative of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, and working with a team of young Australians and 10 other youth from diverse Pacific island countries to raise the concerns of people from vulnerable island nations.
I am also working with my Government to support it in negotiations for a strong agreement for my people.
Since arriving in Copenhagen, I have been working with young people from all over the world and this has given me hope that together we can build a better future.
Developed countries at this conference must commit to a legally binding agreement that will ensure the world’s most vulnerable nations are protected from climate change.
Solomon Islands, as a small island nation, is one of the smallest emitters of greenhouse gas in the world, and yet we are being hit the hardest and the fastest by climate change. I ask Australia, as our closest developed neighbour, to please help us: assist us financially in adapting to climate change and commit to strong mitigation targets to ensure the lowest temperature rise.
This conference has the power to transform the way the world responds to climate change, but only if all countries realise the true urgency of the problem and commit to an ambitious, fair and legally binding agreement now.
For my entire life, world leaders have been negotiating a climate agreement. They cannot tell me they need more time. There is no more time. I hope world leaders realise this week that my generation’s future is in the palm of their hands.
Christina Ora is a youth delegate at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference.